The Coolest Small Towns In America: Cloverdale

In Budget Travel's fifth-annual celebration of hometown escapes across the USA, we're spotlighting 10 places that somehow pack in more personality than cities triple their size. How? It all comes down to the people.

A vineyard in Cloverdale, Calif. (Courtesy Courtesy Wood Sabolt)
A vineyard in Cloverdale, Calif. (Courtesy Courtesy Wood Sabolt)

CLOVERDALE, CALIFORNIA (pop. 8,454)
Wine country without the fuss

Some 90 miles north of San Francisco, Cloverdale is ground zero for Sonoma County's highly regarded zinfandels—but that doesn't mean locals flaunt it. The area's 156 wineries are mostly family-owned and low-key, like the Pendleton Estate, where owners Michall and Jeannine Pendleton give private 45-minute behind-the-scenes tours and tastings (35100 Hwy. 128, pendletonwines.com).

Downtown Cloverdale is a neat collection of rambling Victorians and feed stores turned art galleries, all anchored by the green-and-white 1923 Pick's Drive-In, the go-to spot for burgers and floats (117 S. Cloverdale Blvd., 707/894-2962, burgers from $3.50). Every Friday in summer, the town plaza, a cobblestoned stretch shaded by magnolias, transforms into a freewheeling block party.

"Everyone picks up dinner at the farmers market and gets wine from one of the vineyards' stands," says Mary Stuart, 59, owner of Vintage Towers B&B, a seven-room inn overlooking a wisteria-filled garden (302 N. Main St., vintagetowers.com, from $129). "The band starts playing boogie-woogie, and it turns into one big party."

Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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